Lone Aussie Emily Seebohm shares Energy Standard’s Las Vegas jackpot

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Energy Standard’s historic International Swimming League victory was also a personal triumph for three-time Olympic backstroker Emily Seebohm.

Seebohm was the lone Australian in a never-say-die Standard lineup who stuck the jackpot with one last throw of the dice in a Las Vegas heart-stopper.

It saw the Standard claim the inaugural  ISL trophy from the final two Skins events – sinking the highly-fancied London Roar.

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Making a splash: Emily Seebohm. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

With no Australian team in the ISL for its inaugural season, the head-liner Dolphins, including Seebohm, Olympic champions Kyle Chalmers, the Campbell sisters Cate and Bronte and Emma McKeon (London Roar) and world champion Ariarne Titmus (Cali Condors) were all recruited to the major teams.

But on the final nerve-wrapping day and despite the Roar holding what appeared to be a handful of Aces it was a case of every point counting in an energy-sapping finale that went down to the last two events and it was the James Gibson-coached Standard who actually held their Aces up their sleeve.

Earlier 27-year-old Seebohm drew all her strength from her team and a life time of international competition to out-touch two-time world champion Kylie Masse by 0:01 for a timely third placed finish behind former training partner and world record holder Minna Atherton in the 100m backstroke.

Minna Atherton

Minna Atherton gets her teeth into the 100m backstroke – ISL

It was a new day for Seebohm after her disappointing eighth in the 50m backstroke, reversing the placings which saw her fourth and Masse third to Kathleen Baker in the 200m backstroke.

Atherton, 19, beaten into fourth in the 50m and second in the 200m backstroke was back on song in the 100m backstroke – gunning it off the start and delivering the second fastest time of her career – taking the win for the Roar in a new US Open record time 55.09 – giving her eight of the fastest 15 times in history over 100 backstroke SC.

But when it came down to the last Skins races it was the Energy Standard with MVP Sarah Sjostrom (Sweden) and Florent Manaudou (France) who stood tall, with Seebohm celebrating an history victory alongside the Olympic champions and team captain Chas Le Clos (South Africa), in the predominant European-based Energy Standard team.

ISL: Campbell McKeon

Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell heading for a snap – ISL

The Australians were in the thick of the action all day with McKeon (51.38) taking the scalps of two of the world’s great sprinters in Sjostrom (51.50) and team mate and world record holder Cate Campbell (51.68) for the London Roar in the 100m freestyle, ramming home her own MVP qualities in this kind of format and in a thrilling finish featuring these world class athletes.

The men’s 100 freestyle saw Olympic champion Chalmers (London Roar) go head-to-head with world champion and MVP Caleb Dressell (Cali Condors) with Dressell under world record pace at 21: 65 and stopping the clock in 45.22 to Chalmers second in 45.55 –only 0.01 outside his best time as Dressell showed all his extraordinary skills and Chalmers improving his every race.

McKeon (butterfly) was back in the water alongside Campbell (freestyle) and fellow Dolphins, world record holder Atherton (backstroke) and Jess Hansen (breaststroke), out-touched by the Cali Condors as Campbell tried so hard to play catch up in the dying stages.

The Aussies featured in almost every race and it was world record holder Titmus (Cali Condors) who was under world record pace for the first 200m splitting 55.91 and 1:55.23 – faster than her own splits from last December’s Fina World SC Championships.

Titmus continued to dominate the final 200m – dropping off her cracking early pace to stop the clock at 3:56.21 – 2.29 outside her WR.

ISL: Elijah Winnington

Aussie Elijah Winnington 2nd in the 400 freestyle.

In the men’s 400 freestyle it was Bond’s Richard Scarce coached Commonwealth Games gold medallist Elijah Winnington who completed the Roar 1-2 behind James Guy, clocking 3:40.43 to British record of 3:39.99.

There has certainly been a lot of discussion in the corridors of power that although there will be no Australian team in the next ISL, scheduled for September 2020 – there is every chance that a round and maybe even the Grand Final will be staged Down Under.

Already the Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne have been talked about as possible venues – Sydney celebrating its 20th anniversary of the 2000 Olympics – and the new home of the Campbell sisters Cate and Bronte – a popular pick.

It could also be a timely return to defend this year’s ISL crown for Seebohm, who will now return to her new training base at Griffith University of the Gold Coast under respected Olympic gold medal coach Michael Bohl as she begins arguably the toughest campaign of her career.

To unseat Aussie young guns Atherton and Kaylee McKeown for a shot at a fourth Olympic team for Tokyo…and you can rest assured that Seebohm will be holding her cards close to her chest….